Frustration fuels 'FU' finger-pointing ditty
EmptyWASHINGTON -- I've been tempted to say it. As a matter of fact, I have said it, but I never thought about writing it as a song and having a choir sing it. But Paul Fey, president and chief creative officer of World Wide Wadio, an L.A. company that makes commercials, did just that.
Fey channeled his frustration over the FCC's indecency rules into the song "FCC FU." The song has gone viral, as they say, on the Internet and has garnered hits on YouTube.
Fey says he began to sense a change in his clients' approach to their radio commercials after the government's reaction to seeing Janet Jackson's breast on national TV.
"After the Janet Jackson incident, everything went crazy," he says. "All of our clients got very tense. Everything went through a new round of intense scrutiny because they weren't sure about the rules."
But what finally pushed Fey over the edge was Howard Stern's announcement that he was done with radio.
"I just sat in my parking space and listened to (Stern's show) the whole time," he says. "Here was one of the biggest people in the medium saying he is abandoning radio because of the FCC. As a guy who creates radio commercials, it hit me that this was about my ability to make a living."
As Fey listened to Stern, he became inspired.
"It sort of took over me, and I vented creatively," he says. "I wrote it out and felt better because it was done."
Fey showed it to a few friends and stuck "FCC FU" in a drawer and tried to forget about it, but people kept mentioning the song to him.
"I finally said: 'Let's just do this,' " he says.
So he recorded it with six singers overdubbed several times to make it sound like a choir singing to the tune of "My Country 'Tis of Thee." It's an amusing little diversion. You can't help but like the "FCC FU" sentiment in a "Take This Job and Shove It" way. Since Fey posted the song, someone has set it to a background that changes from American flags a la Jasper Johns to images that include FCC chairman Kevin Martin and other topical subjects.
"FCC FU" is one of a number of different spoofs that poke fun at the FCC's indecency ruling. They show up on YouTube and other sites of the public-performance ilk, and people send them around.
There are numerous remakes of the "Family Guy" number. The one I laughed at hardest featured the cast of Disney's "The Lion King." I'm not hip enough to go to those sites regularly, but then a former FCC aide-cum-lobbyist friend asked me: "What's your take on the video -- has the revolution finally begun?"
I can't honestly answer that question. Fey says he got 25,000 hits on his "FCC FU" in two days on YouTube. For YouTube, that's a pretty low number. I don't know how many hits the other tunes get.
"I never even thought it would get 25,000," Fey says. "It's just a little project dictated by frustration."
Fey has set up a Web site where people can buy "FCC FU" merchandise. He says a portion of the proceeds will be donated to First Amendment groups. While this smacks of commercialism, nothing in the First Amendment prevents people from cashing in.
On the same day I first heard "FCC FU," I came across this quote by the late Justice William O. Douglas: "Free speech is not to be regulated like diseased cattle and impure butter. The audience that hissed yesterday may applaud today, even for the same performance."
I can only hope that Douglas disciples like me and Fey aren't just preaching to the choir.